I try to avoid talking about the Tigers TOO much in this space, but I’m going to indulge myself a bit today:
– In case you missed it, the Tigers and Rangers played a scintillating back-and-forth game on ESPN Sunday Night baseball last night. Despite getting three homers from the peerless Miguel Cabrera (seriously, how good is this guy? The Rangers intentionally walked him in the 6th with runners on first and second and Fielder on deck. Seriously? Awesome to see him do this on national TV, yet bittersweet because of the loss), the Tigers blew leads of 4-1 and 7-5 to ultimately lose 11-8. While it’s still May, this almost felt like a playoff game in terms of intensity. The Tigers needed a win to salvage a tie with the Rangers in the series and to keep up with the red-hot Indians in the division, but ultimately fell short, dropping their record to a somewhat disappointing 23-19. Now, I am somewhat skeptical about the annual Manager of the Year award given out in major league baseball; the award seems to go to the skipper of whichever team overachieves compared to what the writers think that they will do each year. In other words, the award seems to go to the manager of the team about whom the writers were most wrong in the preseason (e.g. Oakland’s Melvin narrowly beat out Baltimore’s Showalter for AL honors last year; both teams were surprise postseason participants after having little to no presesason expectations). But what about those teams that underperform lofty preseason predictions? Despite their World Series run last year, the Tigers had a rather disappointing regular season, only securing the division in the final week of the season when they were expected to run away with the division title. In fact, if it weren’t for such a weak division, they would have missed the playoffs altogether. They seem to be on a similar track this year. By the same logic, shouldn’t the manager get the blame for such consistent underachievement? I’ve maintained to anyone who willing to listen that Leyland’s bullpen mismanagement cost the Tigers severely in last year’s World Series. Over the course of the regular season, I thought previously that his mistakes were costing us perhaps one or two wins over the course of the season, but I may realize now that I may have underestimated. People always talk about how the players love him and how he is just this great old-school guy, but where are the results? I am perturbed.
– We’ve more or less reached the quarter-pole of the season, so about 40 games played for most MLB teams. We’ve heard so much talk about so-called “unbreakable” records in baseball, such as DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak, Cy Young’s career win record and Nolan Ryan’s career strikeout record. But I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge (and to educate the public) about another record that I think will never be broken. In 1984, the Detroit Tigers began the season 35-5. That is not a typo; they won 35 of their first 40 games. I guess forty games is kind of an arbitrary number, so that’s why this record probably doesn’t get as much hype as it should, but still… with every season that goes by and we see hot start after hot start fall by the wayside, I become more and more convinced. The 1984 Tigers’ record is UNBREAKABLE.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Detroit Tigers, a team that boasts both the 2011 and 2012 AL MVPs still in their primes and picked by many prognosticators to return to the World Series in 2013, are 3-6 in their last nine games. Sigh.